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(For the 70s British rock band, see Mr Big.)
Mr. Big combined two popular musical trends of the rock scene in the mid to late 80s: a particular brand of hard rock focused on melodies and listener-friendly choruses made for the arena, and impressive technical proficiency, then called shredding. The seeds for the group were sown when bass player Billy Sheehan (considered one of the top bassists of rock, often thought to be the bass equivalent of guitarist Eddie Van Halen) left David Lee Roth’s solo band in 1988. Almost immediately after his exit, Sheehan began piecing together a new outfit, with the help of Mike Varney from Shrapnel Records, a label specialized in the shredding genre. The band comprised Shrapnel artist and former Racer X guitarist Paul Gilbert, Pat Torpey on drums, and singer Eric Martin, who had a number of album releases throughout the 1980s with his Eric Martin Band.
By 1989, the newly formed quartet, already regarded as a budding supergroup, had already inked a recording contract with Atlantic, resulting in the release of a self-titled debut the same year. Produced by Kevin Elson and Val Garay, ‘Mr. Big’ proved a partial commercial success, reaching the 46th slot on the Billboard 200 chart. Lead-off single “Addicted to That Rush”, featuring the band’s aggressive guitar and bass playing, also brought the group some mainstream attention, reaching the #39 slot on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart.
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